Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is once again upon us with a new venue - Fira Gran Via - and the ever-increasing rise of the tablet aside, it's the phones that everybody gets most excited about. And it's the phones that we'll be looking at in depth while we're out here.

HTC may have launched the HTC One early, and BlackBerry wanted to ensure it had a clean run for the BlackBerry Z10, but most of the other manufacturers have been saving little treats for those hungry for the latest tech. So, in our rolling feature, which will expand as we get more and more playtime with the devices that matter, here are the hottest handsets of MWC 2013.

While not technically a phone - after all you'd look like Dom Jolly on a good day with one strapped to your ear - the Note 8.0 does have voice calling abilities, so we can include it here. It's also rather good, so worth a look anyway.

It's an 8-inch device with a 1280 x 800 TFT touchscreen. Some have whinged a little about the bezel around the screen, but when you hold the device you don't really care. It's surprisingly light and nimble, for starters, and although the pixels per inch aren't the best on show, it is as crisp and vibrant as you'd expect from a company well versed in screen technologies.

The inner gubbins are meaty too, with an 1.6GHz quad-core A9 processor running the show, and 2GB of RAM for good measure. It comes with the latest version of Android, 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, from the box, and the S Pen works better on the Note 8.0 than we've found on all previous devices in the family.

Read: Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 review

Described by the company as the "world's fastest 4G LTE smartphone", the Huawei Ascend P2 supports download speeds of up to 150Mbps thanks to an LTE Cat 4 modem. Obviously, that depends on the network in your region, but still.

It's 8.4mm thick, so not the thinnest phone on the market. Nor is it particularly luxury in feel, being made mainly of lightweight plastics. However, it does have a healthy 4.7-inch screen, with 315ppi, and a 13.1-megapixel camera on the rear that has the potential to mix it up with the best.

The Ascend P2 also has a proprietary 1.5GHz quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM, so offers plenty of decent spec for the money. At 399 euros (£349), it certainly won't break the bank.

Read: Huawei Ascend P2 pictures and hands-on

Not the best specified phone by any stretch of the imagination, but the ZTE Open deserves to be in our hottest phones of MWC 2013 round-up because it's one of the first to be announced with Mozilla's Firefox operating system at its heart.

Looking quite like a Nokia Lumia 620, but dinkier and even more basic, the ZTE Open is really a smartphone for those who are entering the market for the first time. It's cute and cuddly, but wouldn't even win a conker fight against most other handsets out there, thanks to a 3.5-inch 480 x 320 display.

However, playing with the ZTE Open has given us our first taste of Firefox OS and it's looking interesting. So while it may find a market in developing countries primarily, its cheapness may also be attractive to tech fans who want to dabble with a system that's new, as their second or, even, third device.

Read: ZTE Open pictures and hands-on

The Lumia 720 is easily Nokia's most exciting offering at MWC. Think of it as a new, cheaper alternative to the 820. It lacks a lot of the power and battery punch of the 820 as well as having dropped the LTE. 

You do get a crisp 4.3-inch 800 x 480 ClearBlack LCD display, which is as good as any other display Nokia has to offer right now, if lacking in resolution a touch.

The real draw of the 720 is how it outshines budget Android alternatives. Build quality is just that much better. The handset is thin and has removable cases, including one which adds wireless charging capabilities to the phone.

Nokia is also kicking up a fuss over the 720's camera. On the rear is a 6.7-megapixel sensor with a f/1.9 Carl Zeiss lens. That should translate to pretty top-notch low-light performance. Nokia has also included all its normal camera applications.

Read: Nokia Lumia 720 pictures and hands-on

LG's Optimus G Pro isn't yet confirmed for European release but that doesn't stop it being exciting. Sitting in pride of place at LG's stand at MWC, the flagship G Pro is quite a handset.

It features a 5.5-inch display, runs Android Jelly Bean and is far more lightweight than its large screen might suggest. 

The phone is flying the flag for Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 600 processor. It uses a 1.7GHz quad-core chip, which is just about as powerful as it gets in smartphone land right now, along with 2GB of RAM. Also keeping things top of the line is a 1080p screen plus a 13-megapixel camera on the back and a 2.1-megapixel snapper on the front.

Storage gives you 32GB internally. Throw in a big 3,140mAh battery and this is quite a desirable piece of kit. LTE is also part of the package.

Read: LG Optimus G Pro pictures and hands-on

Think of the Padfone Infinity as the Padfone 3. It combines a high-end smartphone with a tablet that the handset can dock into, thus providing processing power for the bigger screen.

This time round Asus has gone for a class-leading Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset which translates to more than enough power. This means you get things like a 1.5-second boot from connecting the phone to the tablet.

On top of that both handset and tablet come with top-notch bright 1080p screens. They are also both very light, especially the phone when compared to other 5-inch smartphone offerings. 

The only real issue we have with the newest Padfone is its £800 predicted price tag. This is expensive for a phone and very expensive for a tablet, but cheap when you think of the cost of buying both separately. So it could end up being brilliantly convenient, or fundamentally flawed.

Read: Asus Padfone Infinity pictures and hands-on

Pic: (cc) Wojtek Gurak